Guest Blog: Protan UK’s Fraser Maitland looks at the importance of balancing the marketing budget with investment in customer care.
Since the 1980s, marketing budgets have been squeezed, and companies forced to prioritise where they spend their money, to achieve best value. Marketing is a vital tool, but it goes beyond statement exhibition stands and pages of advertising. It, like all business principles, is about balance and managing the expectation.
To us, whilst we recognize the need to promote the brand, equally importantly is what the customer wants, and expects. We could make the best-performing single ply in the world, but if it is hard to work with, expensive, or we don’t give our customers the technical and/or site support, it won’t continue to sell. Selling and marketing any building product is about the supplier: customer relationship. To deliver and fulfill expectations, not give empty promises.
After all, people do business with people, not a company. If they have a problem, they want it sorted. And sorted quickly. They want to talk to someone. They don’t want an inquest into who did what; they want it resolved for optimum damage limitation. They want a partner who works with them along the journey, to help ensure any issues do not arise in the first place, who is focused on success.
For any of us to make money, we need to have the right product at the right price. In the building industry, where so many products are almost commodities, you have to add something to differentiate your product.
In my mind, the product is not just a tangible object, the roll of roofing membrane. The Protan product is the complete package: the roll of membrane, the customer support, the partnership. It is that which convinces our customers to use our material over any other.
And it is an on-going partnership, listening to our customers, understanding what they want, and continuing to deliver, time after time. And it is better to deliver what they want, when they want it, consistently, than exceed their expectations and possibly then create a problem.
For example, the roof may need 1000m2 of membrane, but it may be wanted on site in two lots of 500m2. You could exceed expectation and deliver it all straight off; chances are, there was a valid reason why it was to be in two phases (on-site storage, for example), and therefore being over zealous will only have annoyed the customer!
Most of you may even be asking yourselves who or what is Protan? Protan is actually one of the biggest PVC membrane manufacturers in Europe.
Point proven, I think, about the balance between marketing and customer support: we quietly get on with doing the job right, without spending fortunes on promotion, but getting our name out there in a balanced way. Thus we grow without detriment to the offering provided to existing and new customers.
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